Home & Garden

Tri-City homeowners turn to tinted films to protect interiors

PROBLEM: Ultraviolet rays fading your drapes and sofa.

PROBLEM: Air conditioner works overtime in the summer.

PROBLEM: Sunlight glares off the kitchen counters and cabinets.

PROBLEM: Love your home on the golf course but not the golfers glancing in the bathroom window.

SOLUTION: Thin transparent, tinted or reflective films that cling to your windows.

BONUS: Lower power bills.

"People are familiar with tinted windows on their vehicles but seldom think of having it done to the windows of their home," said Candice Tschauner.

She and her husband, Justin, own Autoshades, Inc., in Kennewick, one of several such businesses in the Mid-Columbia.

Much of their business is applying tinted films to auto glass but they also carry several types of films -- clear, tinted or reflective -- for residential and commercial windows. You can see some examples at autoshadeswindowtinting.com.

There are many brands and types of window films on the market. Which you use depends on your goal, whether it's blocking the sun -- to reduce heat, glare and ultraviolet rays -- or privacy. Tinted and reflective films will do all four while the sun shines.

None of the films will give you nighttime privacy. They're designed to help keep sunlight out, not artificial light in. At night people will be able to see in to some degree, she said.

If sun fading is the problem, any film will block most UV light, Tschauner said.

Traditional films, which have been around since the 1980s and 1990s, are made mostly of metal -- which gives them a mirrored appearance -- and/or varying amounts of dye. Their success on reducing heat is based on how much light the film blocks.

The darker the tint, the more sunlight it blocks making the interior of the building darker.

"So you'll need to use more artificial light even during the day. It's a trade off," she said.

These films used to fade and go purple or blue but even these low-tech films have improved, she said.

If privacy isn't an issue, there are newer types of window films that are totally clear and others that nearly are transparent yet still block glare, UV rays and the sun's heat.

Which you use depends on your goal. You can mix and match these higher-tech window films. Using one in a particular area, and another somewhere else and not have it look odd because light hits different windows from different angles, Tschauner said.

As for cost, "I tell people the cost of tinted window films is in the same ballpark as solar screens and custom blinds," Tschauner said.

"And depending on your situation you may only need to do some windows, not the whole house," she said.

The advantages to window films over blinds and curtains are:

* There's no need to drill into the window frame to secure it. The films adhere to glass with a semi-permanent adhesive that's totally removable.

* It can be custom-fitted to odd-shaped windows, though there are some restrictions on oversized, arched windows. The widest roll of film is 72 inches.

* It's good for the life of the home.

* It helps lower energy consumption by insulating against heat and cold transfer through the glass.

To clean, use a glass cleaner that free of ammonia or alcohol -- they break down the adhesive -- and 100 percent cotton towels.

"Paper towels are too abrasive," Tschauner said.

* Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricity herald.com.